Playing the Knowledge Game: A Response.

Taking a hint from the Bourdieu passage quoted by Marie-Pierre Le Hir in her paper on "Bridging National Fields: Nineteenth-Century French Scholarship in French and American Perspectives," I'm going to adopt a heuristic fiction: the idea that genres – in this case a genre of knowledge called nineteenth-century French Studies (NCFS) – can profitably be compared with games. But my point will be that, like games, genres display a constitutive split between the rules that regulate them and the moves the players make: the moves are sanctioned by the rules but not fully governed by them, so that they can on occasion lead to a change in the rules. In this perspective, "pronouncements" made in the course of play by players can be viewed both as attempts further to regulate the game and as further moves within the field of play: to be blunt about it, they tend to regulate, of course, to the advantage of the player. I'll look to Charles Stivale's paper on "'Effects" and "Process": Literary Evaluation and the Scholarly Conference" for initial evidence of a rules/practices split within NCFS and to Marie-Pierre Le Hir's for insight into the function of "pronouncements"; then I'll turn to William Paulson's pronouncement "Nous n'avons jamais été dix-neuviémistes, ou l'Avenir d'un avant-dernier siècle," as an example of a kind of move that is particularly suggestive, because it begins to show how games, and genres, can and do change. (RC)
Chambers, Ross
Volume 1995-1996 Fall-Winter; 24(1-2): 40-46